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Core Vocabulary


Success in the digital age depends on comprehending complex text. Within any complex text, the majority of words come from a very small group of words in the written English language. On average, 90% of the words in a text are drawn from 4,000 simple word families (e.g., help, helping, helps, helped, helper, but not helpless or helpful). The other 10% of the words in texts come from the remaining 300,000 (or more) words in the English language. When readers aren’t adept with the core vocabulary (i.e., the 4,000 simple word families), they have few resources to deal with the new and unique vocabulary within texts.

The core vocabulary may appear to be simpler than the extended vocabulary, but that is not necessarily the case. Many words belong to the core vocabulary because of their multiple meanings and uses. For example, words such as force and model have multiple meanings and also take on different parts of speech.

Students’ extended vocabularies need to be enriched from the preschool years onward. At the same time, if students are to become proficient readers, it is essential that they encounter numerous texts that build facility with the core vocabulary. TextProject is committed to providing both professional development and actual texts that support students’ facility with the core vocabulary.

 Visit our Pinterest board on core vocabulary for an overview of our resources.

Student Resources
Teacher Resources
Professional Development Resources